International signage company Albert Smith Group is still kicking its competitors to the kerb 130 years on. National Business Development Manager, Antonio Alegre tells Niki Waldegrave how.
Unless you’re living under a rock, chances are you’re surrounded by the Albert Smith Group EVERY DAY without even realising.
Do you get petrol at BP? Brave the crowds at Westfield? Shop at Coles or Woollies or – gym bunnies look away now – (occasionally) nip for some scran at McDonalds, Hungry Jacks, KFC or Red Rooster?
How about driving past the shiny new motors on the forecourts of Mercedes, Audi, Volkswagen, and Porsche – do you sneak a glance? Of course you do!
If you live in Asia Pacific or one of its major cities, the chances are you encounter at least one of the above several times a week – sometimes a day – and Albert Smith Group has, literally, stamped its brand over all of them.
Established in 1873 in Brisbane by Samuel Smith, the company initially manufactured rubber stamps. Over the years…Albert Smith Signs evolved into the branding and signage company it is today and is led by Samuel’s great grandsons, Rodney and Mitchell Smith.
Albert Smith Signs is a trusted leader and provider of signage products within Australia. Our number one priority is to protect our customers’ brands through delivering consistent high quality compliant signage. Our claim to be a trusted leader in our industry is not only based on being one of the largest providers but also our long history of design innovations that subsequently have become industry standard.
For example, Albert Smith Signs was the first company in Australia to bring plastics into signage manufacture; the first to bring vacuum forming into signage manufacture in Australia; and the first to deliver LED technology into signage in Australia to improve lighting reliability and reduce operational costs.
It was also the first to develop a unique illumination management system for pylon signs up to 25 metres in height, allowing both fluorescent tube and LED lighting systems to be maintained without requiring specialist high access equipment.
The Albert Smith Group comprises three main divisions – Albert Smith Signs, ASTech and Brandcare. Combining the specialist skills and resources of these divisions enables the group to seamlessly manage every step of the signage production process – conception, design, manufacturing and installation.
The company has literally thousands of hours of technical and business experience to draw upon, not to mention valuable cultural insight. This strength and flexibility has proven invaluable to the company and in turn its customers.
Albert Smith Group‘s National Business Development Manager for Construction, Antonio Alegre, credits the company’s success to the fact it’s still wholly owned and operated by the family’s fourth generation with a continuing commitment to quality and innovation.
“There's a sense of pride and energy here that I haven't been able to find in other companies I've worked for,” says Alegre. “It still has its family roots and Rodney (Managing Director) and Mitchell (Director) have an incredible energy, drive and passion which oozes out to everyone.
“We’re going from strength to strength; we’re increased our staff employment across the Group, we’re investing in new processes and additional equipment to streamline production and delivery the best value to fully satisfy our customer’s expectations of the Albert Smith Group.”
Alegre also points to the company’s passion regarding strict quality control throughout all manufacturing facility stages, as well as the install on site. Indeed, it is the ultimate one-stop-shop. The business does everything from concept to turnkey, Alegre adding: “We are one of a few companies nationwide, which can offer a full in-house solution to the customer. We believe we are the leading branding and signage company in Australia.
“We have many different trades in-house, from welding to painting, to digital printing and electrical assembling componentry…it’s a very busy facility. Our fully integrated in-house design and manufacturing environment delivers concept to completion signage solutions, ensuring strict quality control and adherence to all statutory regulations, EH&S, and local compliances, protecting all legal obligations.”
ASG runs 'Lean Manufacturing’ with a ‘Six Sigma Green Belt’ accredited manufacturing manager. As part of the Lean Manufacturing model and in conjunction with SignSpec, the company’s design division, processes are constantly checked and improvements implemented, and documented. This not only generates cost savings and time improvements but also ensures overall quality improvements.
“International accreditation with many of the world’s leading corporations is a testament to the quality of products and reliability of services by Albert Smith Signs,” Alegre adds. “Our customer base includes many of the world’s leading brands in retail, automotive, finance, hospitality and other commercial and private sectors. We appreciate that these customers have trusted their branding to us, many for more than 30 years.”
2000 Sydney Olympics
One of the largest projects at the time, Albert Smith Group supplied over $3million worth of signage and way-finding to the Homebush Olympic Park during the Sydney-held Olympics Games.
This was an enormous project that was delivered on time and budget. From small amenity wall signs, directionals, digital media, ASG’s Permasign illuminated letters, Totems, Monolith Pylons and illuminated Shy Signs, meaning there was nothing that Albert Smith Signs was not able to deliver to what was an extraordinary spectacle.
BP (British Petroleum)
Another example of an Albert Smith Group partner is BP, with which the Group has had close relations since the petroleum company arrived Down Under in 1920. To this day BP remains one of ASG’s most valued long term customers.
“With major Customers such as BP, we provide all the branding and signage both internal and external,” says Alegre.
“So when you drive into a BP Petrol Station, you’ll notice the big monolith pylons with the advertised fuel price, directional signs, fuel pump canopy, decals, entry portals and internal signage down to the cashier. We have been manufacturing and fitting out BP petrol stations in Australia for decades.”
Alegre says ASG’s biggest core sector for the last few years has been construction.
Australia as a whole is experiencing a very exciting and healthy phase in infrastructure and urban development, with hundreds of billions dollars being invested in residential, roads, rail, hospitals, airports, shopping centres and more. This equates to enormous investment from both government and private sectors.
Let’s take Westfield Shopping Centres as an example: Westfield is well recognized in Australia as the premium shopping centre brand in country as well as internationally. Its brand has been growing greatly in the last few years with many more projects on the way all over Australia.
The Albert Smith Group has also been a long term supplier for the Scentre Group. Generally speaking these are large projects and require a diverse range of branding and signage, from entry to car parks, amenities, internal/external directionals, external monolith pylons and sky signage. ASG manufactures and installs all of these projects from start to finish.
Alegre says the category that’s rapidly expanding for the company is external grade LED screens which can be assembled and supplied in many sizes and applications depending on Customer’s specifications.
“This technology now offers a cost effective add on option for all different types and sizes of pylons and wall/sky signage,” he explains. “This technology is now everywhere, constantly making us aware of events or products we need to buy - there seems to be no end with this technology.
“You’ll find that in the next few years most of the pylons you see as you enter the petrol stations will have LED screens. They will not just display advertising for their fuel but will also advertise whatever is on special in the store. It could be a barbeque gas bottle, milk or whatever is on offer. The options are limitless, which is exciting and convenient.”
With new, large sports stadiums now commonplace, big external facades will become fully embraced in LED screens. Alegre adds: “Some of the new stadiums that we are working with will have hundreds of square meters of LED screens. It will be an incredible spectacle arriving at one of these arenas and you will see that most of the entrance of the venue is one incredibly enormous LED screen advertising the sporting event you are going to.”
LED technology has been the biggest industry revolution in the last decade. All of these developments require branding identification and lots of signage, and Albert Smith Group firmly believes it has the capabilities, capacity, innovation and delivery to be able to contribute to this economic building boom that Australia is witnessing, and will experience for years to come.
As a global manufacturer, marketer and installer of corporate signage and image design, Albert Smith Signs is committed to protecting the quality of the environment in which it operates, now and in the future.
To achieve the highest level of environment, health and safety compliance, Albert Smith Signs has developed a comprehensive Environment, Health and Safety Management System to identify, assess and responsibly manage potential environmental, health and safety risks.
“We conduct every aspect of our business in conformance with applicable laws, regulations and industry standards,” says Alegre. “Where there are no legal or industry standards, we use responsible practices or best practices to minimise environment, health and safety impacts.
“We routinely promote partnerships with employees, customers, subcontractors, governments and the communities in which we operate to encourage the responsible management and use of our products and services. We also proactively communicate our business activities and the risks associated with our operations to employees, customers, sub-contractors, governments and the communities in which we install our product and promote our services.”
Having completed dozens of successful projects over recent years, such a track record of success has resulted in ASG being appointed and maintained as preferred suppliers with many major corporations.
Alegre concludes: “Our customer base includes many of the world’s leading brands in retail, automotive, finance, hospitality and other commercial and private sectors. We appreciate that these customers have trusted their branding to us, many for more than 30 years. Long may this continue.”
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